It is hard to keep people with dementia occupied at the best of time. And now, with COVID-19 bringing some very tough times for care homes, we thought we could provide some inspiration.
In a recent visit to a home to advise on infection control, I noticed a few people were walking with purpose. However, due to their dementia, they were unable to understand the concept of distancing and were putting themselves and others at risk. There was little happening to engage them in their rooms, which increased the chances of them walking into communal areas to seek company and stimulation. A carer explained that things were difficult at the moment because the activity staff were absent. Staff can’t be with residents on a one to one basis at all times, so here are some ideas for you to consider that might help.
At the moment, staff are stretched, stressed and busy. But if you can make this a part of everyday life in your home, you will be improving the quality for staff and people. You could try to disrupt the normal by asking every member of your care staff to be responsible for activity as a part of their normal care duties and day. Ask your staff to think creatively. Also ask them one thing they have done that day over and above the normal care that has enhanced someone’s life. Then you can record their answers.
When leaving a person with dementia in their room after care has been given, always leave them with something to touch, hold, interact with or watch. You can use fiddle mats, aprons or mitts for tactile stimulation. If you don’t have any, you could ask a group of relatives or volunteers to make these. The internet can be a great help, with lots of free patterns and ideas for these items.
Look up 20 practical ideas for activity for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. This could include anything from sorting out a deck of cards, to having a box filled with specific items related to the person’s past.
Zoom has put together a passion planner. It includes all sorts of online activities and visual stimulation – so there is plenty to choose from that might suit the person with dementia. You might try watching animals live at San Diego zoo. Or there are open museum and national park tours, plays and operas, sports and baking classes. They are all free.
Try doing ten minutes at different times of the day. Or you could have an item constantly available that you know the person likes – for example, a doll, fish tank, or tactile items.